It's Five O'Clock Somewhere with Farmer Bailey is back, with guest JP Williams of Plug Connection, California.
JP and Bailey dig into the thrilling benefits of stabilized growing media, why you should consider 285-cell plug trays, and Plug Connections's organic veggie program in this 40-minute Live conversation.
Sneak a peek at the Madeira-grown flowers that will appear on Bailey & Thomas' holiday table, including some spectacular pink King Protea and ruffled Narcissus.
Watch this and every episode of It's Five O'Clock Somewhere with Farmer Bailey on our YouTube channel.
Tune in for another Instagram Live on Wednesday, November 29 at Noon ET/9am PT/5pm GMT. We'll be previewing our Bare Roots launch on December 1.
Plug Connection joined the Farmer Bailey lineup of suppliers in October of 2023. We are proud to offer their superior young plants and our signature customer service to western growers, who will benefit from improved shipping rates. That said, anyone in the lower 48 is welcome to order from the Plug Connection catalog, which includes new organic veggie starts.
MEET JP WILLIAMS OF PLUG CONNECTION
Farmer Bailey: What is your official title?
JP Williams: Plug Connection Sales and Operations Manager
FB: How did you get into horticulture?
JPW: When I was a young kid, I was really into Boy Scouts. I loved the outdoors. My friend’s father had a landscaping business, so when I was 14 I started working for him. It was a way to make money to drive my car around. I love to play golf, so I loved landscaping.
I studied turf management in college, but then I grew a poinsettia crop in 2003 with students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I realized that I belong in floriculture! The rest is history.
FB: Do you still love poinsettias?
JPW: Yes, actually!
FB: What is your day like at Plug Connection?
JPW: Plug Connection is kind of an interesting company, we started growing young plants in SoCal in 1987. It was a new market - people used to sow big common flats and extract the plants and plant them. Plugs were kind of new. PC connected with brokers to find a way to reach growers and sell to them. That’s the model, to sell through brokers. When they hired me, I was a contact to brokers. Spending time with, and traveling with them.
We got acquired by another company in 2016, and that company was our biggest customer. I work with customers directly, but I also have an operational side and freight, purchasing, and growing too! I love growing, so that gets me out in the greenhouse solving problems with our team. I've been here now almost 8 years, and made it my own.
FB: Tell us about your organic veggie program.
JPW: We are kind of pioneers. Our organic certification started about 20 years ago. Back then it was mostly small farms trying to do little plots, and growing their own stuff. In 2005 PC decided we wanted to get involved. We are one of the first young plant suppliers in the country doing organic certification, and the way we operate is very different than a farm. Because of this, we pioneered some of the processes that are now standard for organic certification.
Most of our organic plug customers are either small farms, or for people growing on to sell to a nursery. Our product mix is more heirloom varieties, accessible to homeowners. We had about an acre and half of production once; now it’s a little less than an acre.
FB: What are Plug Connection's greatest strengths?
JPW: Mother Nature! Being In California, we are in the best climate in the world to grow young plants. Our average temperature is 73F. Nights are cool in the summer, warm in the winter. Warmer days in winter, cooler days in summer. Vista is about 7 miles from the coast, so we have coastal influence, that valley brings in marine air, cool air. Nights cool down in the summer time. Hot nights can cause young plants to stretch and have variability. The other problem is cold temps - in SoCal we rarely get temps below 40F at night. We have great sunlight, even in the winter. We don't have to light the plugs because our light is sufficient to energize the plugs during the day. More than ample light.
Our other advantage is experience. We have 30+ years in the industry, growing here. Our head grower has been here 28 years. Head of maintenance since inception. Leads and operational folks, more than 15 years.
Our greenhouses are flexible. Bottom heat, shade curtains.
Willingness to adapt. We have done grafted vegetables, we have done tissue culture. Our bench is deep to take on new projects and pursue them. Our greatest strength as a company is we are willing to try new things.
I list more than 6,000 items with our different brokers. We are always willing to do what we need to do for the customer. And of course, new relationships like Farmer Bailey!
Bailey and JP Williams on Instagram Live, 11/22
Grab a favorite beverage and join Bailey and guest JP Williams at @farmerbaileyplugs on Instagram Live, Wednesday, November 22 at Noon ET/9am PT/5pm GMT.
Just tap the Farmer Bailey Instagram profile photo at the appointed time to join in the Live! Leave your questions for JP and Bailey below as a Comment, or email queries to email@example.com.